App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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There are some music apps for the iPad that are essentially virtual studios. They are dizzyingly complex, with hundreds of possibilities and presets that are daunting to any music lover who may be put off by the sheer amount of choice available, and therefore the steep learning curve they present.
That's where music apps like ZAP Guitar come in. This is an app for everyone, whether they're someone who has never picked up a guitar before or more of a a musical maestro. A simple interface makes it a go-to app in a musical crisis. Ever been around a campfire and someone has forgotten their guitar, thus ruining everyone's evening in the process? We all have, friends, but never fear, this is the app to save the day.
Simply search for a song, open it up, and start swiping or tapping the screen. This mimics the strumming or plucking motion of playing guitar, whilst the other hand simply taps the plectrums on the fretboard to change to the next or previous chord. That's it, no hand cramp from trying to reach difficult chord positions, it's just a case of rhythm and timing.
The real beauty of this app though, is the lack of a built-in selection of songs or any form of song packs, which completely removes the need to purchase anything. Searching for a track is easy, and since the results are all from user-supported sites, there is no need for any form of payment. The only drawback of user-created tablature is that the sheet music may not always be correct, but it's a small inconvenience when considering the costly alternative. Plus, if users feel there is something wrong with a tab they're playing, they can simply enter the edit screen and have a little tinker around. Finding the right-sounding note may be a tricky process for a beginner, but if anything it's a learning opportunity and a good way to train the ol' musical ear. Once they feel confident enough, they can even hit the record button and upload the results onto Soundcloud.
The only in-app purchases available are different instruments and FX, which include a ukulele, a distorted electric guitar and a flange effect. If the sound reproduction of the guitar is anything to go by, and it is gorgeously sampled, users might be tempted to pay the 99 cents per effect. However, the acoustic did me just fine, so not purchasing the extras won't detract from the experience in the slightest.
I'm an average-to-lazy guitar player myself, but I found the whole thing to be great fun, even if some people didn't appreciate me trying to sing along. The fact that users can create their own music is a wonderful touch, especially as a tool for composing on the go. It may not be a veritable studio like other music-making apps, but for free, this app should be a no-brainer download for anyone who likes playing and creating music for fun.